Creative Writing Projects

Try one of these creative writing projects to spice up your study of the nervous system. If you would like to share your work on the Neuroscience for Kids pages, send it to me through e-mail (chudler@u.washington.edu) or by regular mail to:

Dr. Eric H. Chudler
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering
1414 NE 42nd St. Seattle, WA
USA 98105-6271

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Brain Limericks

Try your hand at a witty (or not so witty) "limerick." You know, those bouncy little poems that rhyme. Here are a few examples:

The brain uses neurons to think,
To know, to remember, to drink,
Without them you'll find,
You'll be in a bind,
Your body will fail and sink.
A neuron was once in the rain,
It said "This is really a pain",
It said to its friend,
"This must really end",
So a message was sent to the brain.
The thalamus is a grand station,
It gives and receives information,
Gets messages here,
Sends messages there,
It's quite an important location.

The brain is important, that's true,
For all things a person will do,
From reading to writing,
To skiing to biting,
It makes up the person who's you.

It's a fortunate person whose brain
Is trained early, again and again,
And who continues to use it
To be sure not to lose it,
So the brain, in old age, may not wane.

- This last limerick was written by M.R. Rosenzweig and E.L. Bennett,
in Beh. Brain Res., 78:57-65, 1996

Example poems (including limericks) from the 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2012 Neuroscience for Kids Poetry Contests.

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Brain Poems

Unlike limericks, poems do not have to rhyme. Take these two examples:

Bad PoemGood Poem
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I have a brain,
It's a really nice thing to have.
by The Unknown Poet

The Brain-is wider than the Sky-
For-put them side by side-
The one the other will contain
With ease-and You-beside.
by Emily Dickinson

You don't have to be a famous poet like Emily Dickinson to write poetry. However, I think you can do better than the Unknown Poet. Give it a try!
Here is one sent in by a student (R.T.):

A brain is like
A runn'n train,
Without it you
Will go insane,
It wiggles and
Works, thinks
And learns,
Who has the
smartest brain,
All the people
that have a name.
Here is poem sent in by 7th grader, Taylor R.:

A stimulus occurs when the environment starts changing,
for example when the sun comes out, either that or when it's raining.
A reaction is when you respond,
the choice is from your brain,
Such as turning from the sun,
to hide your eyes from pain.
It's different from a reflex,
impulses notify the brain,
just like putting up an umbrella, before it starts to rain.
You're conscious of your actions
you have the final choice.
Unlike a reflex reaction,
your brain has the voice.

A fly goes by my eye and I automatically blink.
This is a reflex reaction because I didn't have time to think.
I didn't tell my brain, so it wasn't notified,
that I was being harassed by a pesky little fly.
See, that's what a reflex does,
the impulse does not go to the brain.
It goes straight to the part of the body,
that was touched or that felt pain.
The impulse hits the muscle
causing it to contract.
That part of the body moves a little,
then it moves on back.

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Brain Resume

Pretend your brain was going on an interview for a particular job. Why would your brain be best for the position? What parts of your brain are best for the job? Develop a resume (a summary of qualifications, experience and education) for your brain. You may want to pick an occupation. For example, why is your brain best suited for a teacher? Why is your brain best suited for a basketball player?

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Brain "Bumper Sticker"

You've got a brain...now let everyone else know that they have one too. Create a bumper sticker with your own "brainy" saying. Here is an example:

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Make Your Own Brain "Comics"

Fill in speech bubbles to create your own brainy comics. Click on any picture to print it out or download all three comics on single page (PDF file). You can also draw you own pictures and make your own comics.

ALL THREE COMICS - PDF file

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Brain "Tongue Twisters"

See have far you can twist a tongue by creating a "tongue twister." For example, try saying the following sentences:

"Better brains aren't best because they're bigger."

or

"Nine nervous neurons knew nothing new about neuroscience."

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Brain Travel Guide

Someone wants to take a trip to your brain. What will they find there? What does each part do? What can people do at each "location?" Write a travel guide for your brain explaining what someone can see and do when they visit your brain.

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Brain Advertisement

Your brain is now for sale. Create an advertisement for your brain. The ad could be a short paragraph for the Sunday classified section or a full page ad with bright pictures and words. Describe what the buyer will get when they buy your brain. Perhaps add some comments from the previous owner. What makes your brain better than others? How much education has your brain had? Perhaps give a bit of your brain's history like:

Never on Drugs! - Low Mileage (it's young)! - Ready to Learn!

Use magazine and newspaper advertisements to give you some ideas of what goes into a good "sales pitch".

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Create a "Brainy" Newspaper

Create and publish your own newspaper, complete with a name, headlines and stories about a day in the life of your brain. For example, you could call your newspaper "The Daily Dendrite" or "The Brain Bulletin". Stories might include:

  1. "The Hippocampus Goes to Work" - describe how the hippocampus was used in memory during a lesson at school (transferring short term memories into long term memories).
  2. "Visual Cortex Sees All" - describe how the visual cortex was activated on a trip to a museum
  3. "Cerebellum Goes into Overtime" - describe how the cerebellum was used during a basketball game.

Other stories could include how the brain stem, the senses and the autonomic nervous system were used.

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Neuroscience is Everywhere

Information about the brain is easy to find. Newspapers and magazines often have articles about the nervous system. TV and radio stations often run stories about the brain and new treatments for neurological disorders. Advertisers even use the brain to sell products.

How often do you see information about the brain? Keep track with this chart.

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TOP 10 LIST

What are the top ten things you like about your brain? What are the most interesting things you have learned about the brain? What are the best ways to protect your brain and keep your brain healthy? Make a list of them and display them on a poster. Need some ideas? Here are some examples of these TOP TEN LISTS.

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Brain Awareness Poster

Here is another poster idea. Sure, Brain Awareness Week is in March, but it really can be any time you are studying the nervous system. Make a poster that celebrates the most important organ in your body...THE BRAIN.

Get a Special Brain Poster Set here at Neuroscience for Kids (created by Ellen Poliakoff and Sally Bee).

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We're #1

What is your favorite part of the brain? Not the most important part, but your favorite part. What do you like about it? What does it do that you like? Be as specific as possible about the area of the brain you choose. Read about different parts of the brain at divisions of the nervous system.

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The Future Brain

What will the brain of the future be like? Which parts of the brain will continue to evolve? Which parts will get bigger, which parts will get smaller. Will the brain grow? What will this do to the rest of the body? Will computers "interface" directly with the brain?

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Sound Journal

Keep a journal that records all of the sounds that you hear in one day. Record ALL of the sounds that you hear, even those that do not seem very important. How many different sounds did you hear? How did these sounds make you feel? Compare your journal with those of other students. Did you hear similar sounds?

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Drug Abuse Awareness Poster

Start a drug abuse awareness campaign. Begin by creating a poster that tells about the dangers of taking illegal drugs. Think of a catchy slogan like the famous:

"This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs."

Display your posters where everyone can see them. Visit the page on the effects of drugs on the nervous system for more information.

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Brain Songs

Become a composer and create your own "Brain Song". Either create your own music or change the words to a popular song with a melody that most people know. There are some examples on the Brain Song Page.

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Create Your Own Mnemonic Device

A mnemonic device is one way to help you remember. One type of mnemonic is called an "acrostic." An acrostic is a phrase that uses the first letters of words to remember the entire phrase. For example, the phrase:

My Very Early Morning Jam Sandwich Usually Nauseates People

OR

My Very Excellent Mom Just Served Us Nine Pizzas

These two phrases represent the order of planets from the Sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. This is because the first letters in each of the words of the phrase are the first letters of the nine planets in order.

Another memory trick is by constructing a catchy phrase from the first letters of a phrase. For example:

Roy G. Biv

Who is Roy G. Biv? Actually, Roy G. Biv is not a person. The letters, "r o y g b i v" stand for the first letters of the colors of the visible spectrum (also the colors of the rainbow): red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

Create your own memory device for the following:

  • The classification scheme of living organisms - Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species
  • Colors of the visible spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet
  • Order of the planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto

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The "Research Paper"

Ok, ok. If you still insist on doing a "regular" research report, you can do a "regular" research report. Need some ideas and a lesson plan for your report?

Get it here! - For Teachers

Get it here! - For Students

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Brain Safety Brochure

Your brain...the most important 3 pounds in your body...so PROTECT IT!

Create a "Brain Safety Brochure" that is filled with safety tips about how to protect your brain from harm. Use colored paper, pencils, crayons, markers and pens to illustrate your brochure. Cut out pictures from magazines to show good (and bad) brain safety habits. See the brain fitness page for ideas.

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Be a Movie Critic

Here is your chance to watch a movie and learn something about the brain at the same time. Your assignment is to watch a movie about the brain (Awakenings, Charly, Rain Man, Regarding Henry, The Wild Child) and then write a short report.

Complete Movie Lesson Page

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Brain Rhyme Time

Increase your vocabulary as you solve this puzzle with words that rhyme with "brain."

[Go to Rhyme Time Worksheet]

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An Activity A Day to Learn About the Brain

FOUR weeks of activities to keep you busy. These are short projects to get you thinking about the brain.

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Name Your Team

If you belong to a team or a club, you need a name. Why not choose a "brainy" name? How about "The Maple Street Myelin" or the "Golden Ganglia?" My personal favorite is "The Axonal Aces." You could even name your team after your city: The Nantucket Neurons, The Denver Dendrites, and of course, The Boston Brains. Use your brain to name your team.

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Write a Letter to Show You Care

Choose an organization that supports brain research or an advocacy group devoted to neurological or mental illness. Write a letter to this group explaining your concerns and feelings. You may even ask them to send you additional information on a particular topic. For regular addresses and e-mail addresses of different organizations, see the Brain Connections Directory.

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Write a Letter to a Famous Neuroscientist

Choose a famous neuroscientist and write a thank you letter to show how much you appreciate his or her discovery and contribution to brain research.

Nobel Prize Winners - Neuroscience

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Nervous System A, B, Cs

Can you think of a 26 different nervous system words or concepts each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet? Make this list and add the definition of each word.

Need help? Think of words for different parts of the brain, parts of a neuron, neurological disorders, neurotransmitters, and drugs that affect the nervous system.

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Discover the Brain!

Answer these questions as you learn about the brain:
  1. Describe the brain: size, shape, color, functions, connections?
  2. How does the brain interact with other body systems?
  3. What is the best way to model the brain?
  4. Name the parts of the brain.
  5. What disorders affect the brain?
  6. What discoveries about the brain still need to be made?
  7. What DON'T you know about the brain?

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